Part of my ignorance came from a conventional misunderstanding of what a friend is meant to be. For most of my life, friendship was project or proximity focused; you know, get a job done or get along with some guys that circumstance brings together. Yet, when either of those elements changed, I accepted the slow fade to acquaintance status. This relational state is better known as fellowship, which is not friendship.
Friendship requires more than just a project or proximity, though, more than just getting together and having a good time.
Now, at almost forty, I recognize that God has made us men to need closely bonded relationships that go the distance and make us better. These relationships require three things to flourish: choice, time and vulnerabily. All other virtues stream from these.
Choice means picking a friend or two and committing to practice friendship through thick and thin. This builds virtues like patience, forgiveness and resilience.
Time is understanding that being together on a regular basis is what creates experiences and conversations, which are the bricks of friendship. Virtues like dependability and accountability come from time spent together.
Vulnerability is earning trust and “showing your cards” through the entire emotional spectrum, to not hide feelings or failure, but share your deepest, darkest heart with some trusted men. Honesty, restoration and trust are forged here.
The kind of friendship that gets beyond fellowship is a lot of work, but it’s strengthening every role in my life–being a man, husband, father and, well, being a friend.
Get started and keep growing.